In May, at the peak of COVID making Google Meets recordings acceptable as a form of content, we sat down with Jason Hamborg to talk bad ads.
The goal? To tap into Jason’s expertise as Creative Director of 6ix Sigma, a video production company in Northern BC, and learn how someone with his skills would improve those bad ads.
We scoured the internet for ads that made all kinds of ‘worst of’ lists, then picked three to talk about. Instead of leaving the conversation too open-ended, we asked Jason about one specific aspect of the bad ad in question and really dove into that topic.
In part one, we discuss lighting through the frame of Montgomery Flea Market’s bananas furniture ad.
What We Can Learn From Montgomery Flea Market:
Flat Lighting Feels... Awkward
The key issue we identified for this ad was lighting. The lighting is really… odd, flat, and ugly. Compare the lighting in this piece to one we shot for Kennedy Construction. Obviously, the 4K camera makes for an uneven playing field, but lighting technique is lighting technique, and our talent is lit in a way that draws the eyes in.
As a semi-educated viewer, I assumed that there were basically no lights being used outside of the overhead lights. Jason corrected me - he believed they may have actually had some front lighting, but that it wasn’t enough to create depth.
The Sitcom Lighting Effect
Jason references ‘sitcom lighting’ as he explains what might be going on here - whether accidentally or by design. That lighting type was designed by Karl Freund, and I personally loved this video on the subject.
The goal of sitcom lighting is to allow characters to move across the stage without the need for lighting changes while being filmed by three different cameras. It’s not actually an easy thing to make work - Freund got it so right that the formula is more-or-less unchanged to this day.
The problem here is that there is no need for sitcom lighting - there is one subject, and he’s being shot by one camera in snippets. There’s more than enough opportunity to reposition lights and cameras between takes.
Fixing Flat Lighting
Jason’s tip for this ad? Since adding more light may not be feasible, or it may make the problem worse, that’s probably not the right first approach. Try to remove lighting. This could be done by taping something opaque over the lighting panels above in order to focus a front key light with less distraction.
Reach out to chat with the Goat team to let us know what you think of the video, or if you have more suggestions for bad ads to learn from - there are more to come! And one last thanks to Jason from 6ix Sigma, check them out.
Bryce Lokken — June 16th